What does ‘transformation’ mean amid the disruption of COVID-19?

In its latest newsletter, the Transformations to Sustainability programme shares insights on doing transdisciplinary research in times of a global pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged some of the central assumptions of research on transformations to sustainability, even while increasing the need for actionable knowledge about social transformations. The pandemic has also changed the parameters for transdisciplinary and internationally collaborative research.

In the latest Transformations Quarterly, the twelve international transdisciplinary projects in the Transformations to Sustainability programme share insights on how COVID-19 has affected their work.

When the project teams met virtually at the end of 2020, the researchers were asked to reflect on both the main challenges and the positive impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic on their work, how they had adapted to the situation and what they saw as the emerging needs and opportunities for research on transformations to sustainability.

Many reported feeling generally positive and proud about how they’d been able to adapt to the exceptional situation.

The biggest challenge was to conduct face-to-face workshop-styled interviews for case studies as originally planned. How did we overcome the challenge? By learning new tools and digitalizing the data collection process.

Anonymous feedback during December 2020 virtual meeting.

At the same time, researchers noted that the pandemic raised important questions about what ‘transformations’ means, and challenges around the desire to return to ‘normal’ when deep social transformations are needed in order to move towards a more sustainable and more equitable world.

Read all the reflections from the T2S community in the latest blog from the programme: What does ‘transformation’ mean amid the disruption of COVID-19?

Read the latest Transformations Quarterly and subscribe to get the next version direct to your inbox.

Find out more about the programme on the T2S website.

The Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) programme, launched in 2017, is a partnership between the Belmont Forum, NORFACE and the ISC to advance social science research on transformations to sustainability. The ISC, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), coordinates the knowledge exchange and dissemination work package of the programme.


Heading photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash.

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